Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Georgia Straight: Malarky selected as a best book of 2012

This week’s Georgia Straight contained some pretty wild and cheery news.

In the Georgia Straight Best Books of 2012 round up an extraordinary occurrence (by my standards anyway) three different critics chose Malarky as one of their picks in the same article!

Thank you to Brian Lynch, Michael Hingston and Alexander Varty for the thoughtful reflections on Malarky. Much appreciated.

Was also glad to be beside Karolina Waclawiak‘s novel How to Get Into the Twin Palms published by the dynamic Two Dollar Radio and Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies, which has to be a serious contribution to what Lidia Yuknavitch (another swimmer: see her Chronology of Water) termed “a literature of the body” during our panel discussion at Wordstock — The Portland Writers Festival.

Read the whole article here

Here are the three extracts:

Malarky
(By Anakana Schofield. Biblioasis)
In her debut novel, the Vancouver-based writer rolls out a fully realized marvel of a character, one who seems like she’s been there all along, waiting to be written into story form. Our Woman, as she’s named here, belongs to the settled ways of the Irish countryside—until her world is capsized by the hidden sexual lives of her husband and her son. Schofield has fashioned a truly memorable figure, clear as day from the opening pages of this raw, sad, funny book, and yet consistently surprising. (Brian Lynch)

Malarky
(By Anakana Schofield. Biblioasis)
Great fiction takes risks. That’s why descriptions of a classic and an utter fiasco can sound so similar. And yes, in theory, the debut novel by Vancouver’s Anakana Schofield is far from a sure thing: it’s an obsessive, voice-driven novel about a grieving Irish housewife that runs along irregular timelines and lingers at unusual places. It also never, ever apologizes for itself. More importantly, it all works. Joe Biden may have done more to repopularize the word malarky this year, but Schofield’s electrifying novel will leave a much longer impression.  (Michael Hingston)

Malarky
(By Anakana Schofield. Biblioasis)
I laughed, I cried, and I’m not kidding. The immensely gifted Anakana Schofield’s vivid study of a middle-aged Irish housewife’s nervous breakdown has a huge heart and a fierce brain; Malarky is, by a wide margin, the most memorable fiction I’ve read this year. Our Woman invents some dubious remedies for her diabetes, not to mention her sense of shame and loss over her husband’s philandering and subsequent death; nine out of 10 doctors would not prescribe fruitcake and sex with strangers. But sometimes cures can take curious form, in life as in this extremely delicious novel. (Alexander Varty)

The book that ruined my life: Anakana Schofield

The Georgia Straight recently asked me the following question in relation to my appearence on Sunday Sept 29th at The Word on the Street 2012 : Which book changed your life?

Below was my response, published on their website and now here.

Since March 15, when I published a novel, I have been asked multiple times in interviews: which book changed your life?

If honest, I have not had a Pentecostal-change-of-my-life moment as a result of reading any book.

Ever.

The things that changed my life were my father dying one night in 1977, my son being born in 1999, getting a council flat or its equivalent in Vancouver, and a diagnosis of reflux in my left kidney.

It occurs to me that I have not considered the original question in broad enough terms. Which book has ruined my life?

BBC Radio 4 provides the answer. Last Thursday, not long after the above inquiry yet again ding-donged into my email (“Tell us about the book or author that changed your life”), I came upon a serialization of Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, Episode 5 of which was streaming live.

Rogue Male was a novel I studied and the only novel I have any memory of studying (do I need to check into a clinic?) for O-level English 25 years ago. It was a profound experience. We had to read it aloud. I was never ever asked to read aloud because I desperately wanted to read aloud. I had to suffer the most awful rendition of this novel aloud, which I duly tackled by reading the entire novel ahead silently. Chapters ahead, I’d read the whole book at my desk, while everyone else was still plodding through early chapters aloud. It was a racehorse reading of Rogue Male.

Mr. Household’s novel was a visceral experience. I read a novel about a man who lived under the ground like a mole. Just because. It didn’t matter why he lived under there. I was only captivated by the idea that people could live underground and therefore, obviously, did live underground. Right now. All around me. And because there was an authoritative male voice telling me. I too could go there.

With hindsight, perhaps the central heating wasn’t very good in our house because I can’t understand why I wanted, in the words of the Jam, to be Going Underground. I was an overly imaginative adolescent likely damaged by enforced listening to BBC Radio 2.

In anticipation of going back underground with Radio 4 last week, I searched up the novel online and felt a retroactive kick to the kidney to learn the book was a spy thriller! A classic spy thriller! Episode 5 delivered itself along with a sentence describing a man holding sight of another man in a crossfire.

There was no man killing any other man in the novel I read at that school desk. There was no spy on the run. There was just a man who wanted to live underground for a reason that made no impression on me, because I was too impressed by the concept you could live down there. Beneath Clarks Shoes. I was impaled on that image. Household could say whatever he wanted after that. I was gone. Underground.

Twenty-five years after the fact I learn that my most visceral literary influence may explain why I have never been able to imagine owning a home and flunked science.

Raving: Georgia Straight reviews Malarky

Glad to read this close reading of Malarky by Michael Hingston in the Georgia Straight today. What I appreciate especially about this review is how the reviewer tuned into that latter third of Malarky. An astute read on the book indeed. I also like how the review commences in that third, refusing to chronicle in sequence, a piece that refuses to deliver in a chronological sequence.  (Review that responds to form? or reviews out from the book? )

I also enjoyed the headline:

Click on the extract to read in its entirety.

Anakana Schofield masters madness in Malarky

 

 

“Madness is one of fiction’s most enduring subjects, but it requires some finesse in order to be done justice. You can’t just push a character off the cliff of mental health and then catch up with them at the bottom. That’s cheap, and uninteresting besides. The real challenge is to document what happens to that person, second by second, on their way down—because no two falls are exactly the same.

This helps explain why Malarky, the debut novel from Anakana Schofield, an Irish-Canadian author and critic who calls Vancouver home, stands head and shoulders above many of its peers. And she’s got competition: in 2012 alone we’ve seen Ross Raisin’s Waterline, about the rapid self-destruction of a middle-aged Glaswegian widower, and Amelia Gray’s Threats, a chilling, stylized exercise in mood and faulty memory. Both of these books are very good, but Schofield’s is better.”

 

 

Malarky in Georgia Straight

Lovely write up for Malarky in today’s Georgia Straight’s Best Spring Reads article. I was reassured to read the writer cottoned on to the political elements and the humour in the book.

Here’s a link to the piece, click on this quote from it below.

“it joins a long line of ambitious writing that turns the peculiarities of Irish life into a mirror for the world.”